I never watched the TV show, the recent movie starring Johnny Depp or even listened to my parents who would always wax poetic about how great the character was. Which is weird because I love Westerns. I figure an annual is the best place to start reading Lone Ranger comics, so let’s check it out, is it good?
Lone Ranger Annual 2013 (Dynamite Entertainment)
The best thing about annuals is they are one in done stories that are, in most cases, written so those unfamiliar with the character can still enjoy them. This annual is just that, and while I did need to know the Lone Ranger is a rogue hero, that’s about it.
That’s because the character that takes focus here is fully introduced, complete with a flashback, and is ultimately the target the Lone Ranger is after. That means we get a story about him, and the Lone Ranger just so happens to be in the story. To tie it in a bit more though the character is trying to be like the Lone Ranger, enacting justice, only his brand of justice is more vengeance than anything. Hard lessons are going to be learned, but that’s the west isn’t it?
The story goes something like this,
A young man takes up a mask in pursuit of his father’s killers as the feared Devil-Gun. Now Lone Ranger must confront his own ideals as he pursues this dark mirror-image of himself. Can the Ranger show his opposite coin the difference between justice and vengeance before innocent blood is spilled?
Dark and brooding.
The story opens with a sheriff taking a stagecoach robber to justice. Unfortunately he bribes the guards with riches and they go off and take out the sheriff. The sheriff however, has a son, who’s a crack shot and a bit angry about this wild west “justice.” Cut to 11 years later and real justice is being served. There’s a cool Unforgiven vibe to this story, particularly because the vengeance is enacted by a man clouded in shadow and darkness.
Justice is anyone behind a gun.
Writer Shannon Eric Denton also ties the Lone Ranger to this new vigilante well by making the Lone Ranger feel as if it’s his fault for creating this new enactor of justice. Denton even has the Lone Ranger go into how he may have become this character if things went a different way, which helps show us not only is the Lone Ranger human, but also makes the character in this story a foil of sorts. He’s not necessarily a villain, but he’s a mirror of what the Lone Ranger could have been. That’s compelling.
The only weakness of this story is the young man’s personality. He’s basically a blank slate of anger and his only real characteristic is vengeance. He really only gets a chance to kill and express his rage and it would have been nice to see a bit more of the man under the mask.
The story even has an awesome train sequence that will make you wish this was a live action flick. That’s partly due to the art by Matt Triano, which is moody, crisp and well rendered. There are a few shots that are a bit too dark for my tastes, but it’s clear the intent of this story is to get as dark as possible. Triano also uses sound effects nicely, always drawing them in ways to express the type of sound we’re hearing. The train explosion sound effect in particular is incredibly awesome and I recommend everyone at the very least crack this book open to see it.
Epic shot to open the book.
- Nice layouts
- Moody art with killer sound effects
- Protagonist ties in well with the Lone Ranger
- Main protagonist is flat and a vengeance cliche
Is It Good?
This is a cool ride that all Western fans should hop onto. The Lone Ranger isn’t actually in the book too much, serving as a catalyst for the climax more than anything. The story, while a bit cliche in its rendition, is made more interesting in how it ties into the Lone Ranger’s character. Two roads, two types of enactors of justice and we learn it’s justice can’t come without a fair trial. Or so the Lone Ranger thinks.